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Gurgaon: 50 lakh litres of groundwater extracted daily by tanker mafia, say experts

Tankers used for supplying illegally extracted groundwater can store anywhere between 5,000 and 10,000 litres

gurgaon Updated: Jun 26, 2017 14:02 IST
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With Gurgaon’s water table falling with every passing year, private tanker operators are raking in the moolah by extracting groundwater from borewells illegally and selling it to residents.(Parveen Kumar/HT PHOTO)

The district administration has failed to crack down on the tanker mafia indulging in extracting groundwater and selling it to make huge commercial gains in notified zones of the city. It allegedly works in close connivance with the police and administration.

The residents claimed they keep complaining about the water mafia operating with gay abandon, from time to time, but nothing is done to put a check on such operators.

If experts are to be believed, as much as 50 lakh litres of groundwater are extracted by the mafia daily and sold to industrial units, construction sites or used for other purposes.

HT visited areas such as Kartarpuri, Palam Vihar Extension, Chauma, Maulahera and Dundahera, among several others located within 90 metres of the ammunition depot.

In some areas, plants, where groundwater is extracted illegally, were found to be operating day and night.

Tankers used for supplying groundwater, extracted illegally, can hold anywhere between 5,000 and 15,000 litres. These are often spotted at the illegal extraction sites after sundown, sources said.

Sources said visiting these unauthorised extraction points is fraught with danger, especially for mediapersons, as men working for the tanker mafia are posted in every nook and cranny to keep watch and ensure their operation passes off without a hitch.

“I have information that the tanker mafia manages to extract as much as 10-15 litres of groundwater daily and sell it at 50 paise per litre. All this is happening right under the administration’s nose, within 900 metres of the ammunition depot. I lodged five complaints on illegal extraction of groundwater from borewells and was threatened. The district administration is fully aware of all such illegal extraction points or sites,” said RK Sharma, a water technologist, who asked not to reveal the area where he resides in the interest of his safety.

Sharma said, “Those running this operation are locals and their business has grown by leaps and bounds over the last five-seven years. The tanker mafia could be broadly classified under three categories. One that sells illegally extracted groundwater on tankers. There’s another one that run the business of unauthorised borewell digging and a third that run treatment plants for selling potable groundwater. Such operations are clearly against the law and cannot be condoned.”

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HT interacted with operators of one such unit near Jwala Mill in Sector 22, posing as customers. They said in peak summer, groundwater in a 5,000 litre tanker is sold for anywhere between R700 and R1,000.

“If you want the groundwater to be used for domestic purposes, it has to be treated. Untreated water could only be used to construction purposes,” an illegal private tanker operator said.

The district hydrology department is the nodal authority which is authorised to book a person found extracting groundwater illegally. Though the department claims to be receiving complaints (of illegal groundwater extraction), it fails to provide data to substantiate the same.

Vijender Singh Lamba, district hydrologist, said, “We normally book such persons under the Environment Protection Act, 1986. We take action whenever we receive complaints.”

First Published: Jun 25, 2017 23:40 IST